spirits

The weekend of coming together with some college friends has arrived and I am driving into Boston.   There is a lockdown in effect in order to find the remaining marathon day bomber still at large, and lots of doom and fear being delivered with the news.  I finally turn the news off and readjust to knowing it will be okay to get to where I am going in the North End, the motivation to get there is strong and so here I am. Feeling the familiar road under me, I am reminiscing about all the years I made this drive as a resident of Boston during graduate school and beyond, a particularly romantic time of my life on every level.  It is where I was able to discover my gifts as an architect and transition to an independent life living alone in a spectacular studio apartment overlooking the Boston Common.  It is where I fell in love over and over again.  Boston became the stage for courtship with the man I would eventually marry…

I have brought a bottle of tequila with me to celebrate. My ‘spirit’ of choice these days, it has to be good quality tequila, chilled to drink on its own with just a squeeze of fresh lime.  My brother is the true connoisseur, and has trained me to appreciate the virtues of this spirit consumed this way.  It is a strong spirit that brings a promised glow and release and yet allows me to still feel my own strength and clarity, unlike other spirits that tend to create a soft blurring quality in whatever experience I am having.  So now I am thinking about this naming of alcohol as ‘spirits’, how perfectly it captures the quality of connecting to something beyond the small world of self that lives in our head.  ‘Spirits’ remind us that our bodies are tightly wound to this small world and that it might actually be healthy to aid the body to remember how to make a connection to something (spirits) beyond, whether with food or drink or sex or exercise or even meditation!

So, I am headed into a reunion that will undoubtably involve partaking in many of these activities.  We drink champagne together to celebrate the new home on this precious strip of waterfront in Boston’s North End where Kim and Dave have realized a dream that they now share with us.  We share luscious meals, from the perfect quiche that Kim makes the first morning (so perfect even without the mushrooms and onions she said were missing, smile), to memorable authentic Italian cuisine in local restaurants (omg…the asparagas risotto!!), to beloved fish & chips, large pieces of fresh haddock that I know has come from the sea I can smell in the air I am breathing.   We take long walks together,

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some sauntering through the historic streets and decades of memories for many of us, and brisk invigorating walks along the harbor and through parks.

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We do yoga together! (another smile).  We talk and talk and talk in an easy catharsis that speaks of familiarity and trust and love, even if thirty three years away.  And we revel in the spirit of Boston together, how visceral it is right now, how easy it is to touch the very heartbeat of this city and history and community in such a poignant way after such a dramatic week.

It is just us girls now and after dinner we each prepare a spirit of choice

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and head up to the roof deck for a look.  The lights of the city are both far away and so close, each one like a flickering spirit of its own…..

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We snap pictures of each other, each with our own little i-phone cameras, trying to capture the spirit of the moment…

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And then breathe the cool night air, sip our spirits quietly, and know these moments are special and fleeting and enduring….

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green

It is April 17 and I already have to mow my lawn. Not the whole thing, just a portion of it that has been relentlessly ahead of the rest of the lawn in growth for the fourteen years I have lived here. If not for this one patch of the lawn, I might be able to comfortably confine my mowing to every ten days, maybe even two weeks. But no, this one patch is truly prolific, not just in height but in density too, rich thick green grass that just keeps on coming. I noticed it this morning on my way out with Yankee for our walk, a true spring morning with hints of forsythia blossoming everywhere and the expanses of new growth on every lawn, like tightly woven blankets of bright green just laid down. This one patch of my lawn has been a mystery all these years, located at the base of the beautiful old lilac in front of the kitchen window. I’m sure there is a scientific reason for it, but I don’t know what it is, so my imagination runs amuck. Is it from the electric wires that run from the garage out to the light pole at the front edge of the lawn? Is it from the copious amounts of pee delivered by Yankee in this spot, which kills grass everywhere else but seems to be absorbed with grace in this particular place. Is there an energetic line running through this very spot, a beacon of the Earth’s inner light? Maybe it is a pool of water underground that provides extra special nourishment. Or is there something magical about the roots of this lilac spreading and communing with the ground underneath this plush grass. Or maybe something buried in the soil that is continually life renewing in the best sense of sustainable. I just don’t know.

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I suppose it’s a little bit like nutrition these days. We eat something and we feel good. We eat something else and we feel bad. I am still shocked at what seems to be a non-existent regard the medical community has for the chemistry of food and how it affects every system in our bodies. I get it, that it is an overwhelmingly complex proposition to consider the infinite combinations of proteins and carbohydrates that are possible with the vast variety of foods available to us these days. Add this to the complex emotional relationship we have with food. And yet, we still need to make choices, and presumably good choices that will support our health in some way. Someone can objectify what might be good for us to consume, but in the end, we only have our own awareness of what feels good and what doesn’t.

For the past year or so, I have watched the ‘green smoothie’ craze take hold. No longer considered a radical health alternative, the varieties of green smoothies are as plentiful and common as the endless varieties of granola we now have to choose from. And still, I haven’t really experimented with it until now. During a recent visit with my parents, my mother asks me if I want some smoothie. Sure! I sit and watch while she proceeds to wash some leaves of kale, a piece of cucumber, and a stalk of celery (all organic of course). She retrieves some mango chunks out of the freezer and peels a banana. She gives me a choice of liquids and I choose coconut milk. She adds the kale to the blender first with some liquid and after that has processed down a bit, adds the rest of the ingredients and in just a minute, we have a green smoothie. It is delicious, slightly chewy from the kale, just the way I like it. It FEELS good. I feel good. Mom makes some version of this every day, and she shares her formula with me. Three fresh organic green vegetables and two fruits with a liquid source of choice, could be some form of milk or yogurt, depending on constitution or sensitivities.

Back home, I practice, and make my first green smoothie exactly the way my mother demonstrates except I substitute avocado for the cucumber, and then add a tablespoon of chia seeds at the end for some protein. Yum. And I know, avocado is a fruit, and I changed the formula here by making it three fruits and two vegetables. But it works for me and it still feels good and fills me in a sustaining way. I’m not hungry all morning and I love the thought of the nutrient rich soil I am cultivating in my body…and even imagine what form of plush green grass will now grow from me, smile….

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…a gorgeous spring morning….being led from plush green grass to rich green smoothies and grateful for the journey and for having the choices I do have…

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sprouted

It came out the first time during one of my birthday calls the other day while catching up and sharing about where we are today.  I find myself expressing wonder all the new and exciting ‘starts’ that I am experiencing right now after years of cultivating spaces in my home and in myself for a variety of activities and energies, cultivating ground for the seeds of all the aspects of who I am, to grow…

Then I’m in one of my morning skype conversations with Kathy the next day, best friend of 45 years now, we talk at least once a week Amherst to Sydney and it is just amazing to me how fresh this keeps our friendship through thick and thin.  So now I find myself telling her about yesterday’s conversation and how it feels like I have all these sprouts coming up now, that I’m aware of the time it has taken for each of them to break ground, and in this, can find the patience to let them each continue to grow organically.  We laugh together at the reference to patience of course, as if it takes being in our 50’s now to really get what this word means.  She, who in the span of two weeks just a few months ago, is told she has breast cancer and undergoes a mastectomy.  Now it is the recovery and rest mode that challenges Kathy’s natural exuberance for forging ahead in creative spirit.  She’s had to slow down.  She’s had to be patient with her healing.  There is acknowledgement that it’s all good and we shake our heads at the wonder of what it takes to find patience in this life.  Smile.  We are about to hang up and I remember my quandary at what I will present today at Rotary lunch for my ‘acquaintance to friendship’, quickly explain to Kathy that this is a tradition of our club, a five minute segment each week where one of us stands up and shares things about our selves and lives in a more intimate way.  I’m fretting about it because this is my second time doing this, and I can’t for the life of me remember what I told everyone two and a half years ago.   More laughs.  And then without hesitation Kathy says, “Tell them you’re a package of seeds!”

So that’s exactly what I do.

I tell my colleagues that in the past six months I have sent my developmentally disabled son to college, taught my first yoga class, skied for six days in the western Rockies on new equipment for the first time in 25 years, began offering and teaching my first quilt-making class, began seeing clients privately in my home office for energy healing treatments,  began writing the novel I envisioned writing 20 years ago, started speaking up at my Planning Board meetings (smile), and finally, joined my first committee since becoming a member of this Rotary club eleven years ago.

I share that clearly, some of the seeds in this package have already sprouted and reached full bloom, as in an architecture career of over 25 years and the launching of children into their own independent lives.  But I am both humbled and thrilled at how many seeds in this pack are of the slow germinating kind.  It seems I am a variety pack after all, one that will offer some surprises, if only I can be patient?

Well, I’m really enjoying the feeling of all this.   And it occurs to me to also note that in this six month period I have also, literally, started growing sprouts to eat each day!  I purchased a four tiered sprouting tray way back in the summer and it sat in the package until the middle of this winter.  Now I experience the the fun of filling each tray with alfalfa seeds, adding water to the top tray, and watching how it trickles down slowly to a bottom collecting tray, and providing the much needed nourishment to each seed for germination.  It takes just about four days of watering for the trays to fill with gorgeous sprouts…

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I love eating these sprouts.  It is the ultimate freshness at a time of year when fresh growth is just barely waking up after the long winter.  I put them in salads, in sandwiches and on top of stews and stir fries.  My favorite is as an accompaniment to two eggs over easy (with broken yolks) which I make in my little well seasoned cast iron skillet with a pat of organic butter (made from grass fed cows)….a perfect breakfast!

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Yes, these are very fast germinating seeds, these little alfalfa sprouts, but what a great daily consistent reminder of the importance of watering and nurturing, and of enjoying life in this sprout stage of growth, amidst all the other sprouts…

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the last of the thread

It’s just another birthday.  That’s what I keep telling myself.  As yet, there is something auspicious about the number 55 that bears reflection.  Not that it HAS to have any special meaning, I just feel it and know it is connected to something that is hovering at the edge of my consciousness.  I’m in the process of feeding the animals, making the coffee, my usual morning routine and what comes to me, oddly enough, is the image of the spool of thread I recently finished.  A truly beloved spool of thread, if there ever is such a thing!  It is thread I actually dyed myself in a workshop ten years ago (5+5=10), I remember being thrilled with the result, and the quantity produced.  There is something just perfect in the weight, feel and variegated color of this thread that has continued to call to me all these years, and the shades blues, greens, and purples that have added a kind of shimmer and depth to each of the three quilts it has graced since.  I was able to make three full spools of this thread from my dyeing exercise years ago, which has translated into countless hours of hand quilted stitches and I’ve been aware for the past month that I am rapidly approaching the end of the last spool.

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I have to make sure I can finish the center of this quilt I am working on, there will be no other thread that can even come close to producing this effect and so each stitch now becomes even more present and precious as I am making it.  And as I am stitching I catch myself reflecting on the fact that this is the last of the thread and feel the accompanying tug in my heart and knot forming in my core, the characteristic tension that signals an attachment and that it is time to let go…

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So I finish my stitching without an inch to spare and big sigh, it is done.  But am I really ‘done’?  That’s it then, the feeling that something is done and it’s not just the quilt.  And so to help bring to light what this might be I decide to check in with Google this morning and type ‘the number 55’ and pick the most likely candidate from the first page of results.  It is a blog entry chronicling all the attributes and meanings associated with the number 55, everything from numerous references in the Bible to complex mathematical equations.  At the end of the blog is a string of comments and I scan them quickly until my eyes fix on this,

“The number 55 usually means the stirring of things, change and letting go of the
things/situations/people who are not good for you or serve your life purpose any
longer. It is also about spiritual awakening.”

There’s nothing in this simple offering that I haven’t already considered and yet, my brain finally stops and I feel the truth rise up out of the knot that holds my heart in check.  I tenderly gaze at the love that I just yesterday set a clear boundary with.  It is a love that I have been distancing myself from for months now, only to realize the more I distance myself, the more attached I feel.  Not unlike the creative space that opens now with the this last bit of thread winding off the spool, establishing a firm boundary and closure in love, makes space for the knot to loosen and allows me to begin to breathe fully again.

And, creates space for me too to enjoy all the wonderful birthday phone calls I have been receiving all morning! So blessed to be here at 55….